Ford Motor Company's plans for a significant overhaul in its production strategy are causing shockwaves in Europe. The automaker reportedly plans to cut thousands of jobs in favor of electric vehicle (EV) development. The job cuts will mostly impact Ford employees working in vehicle development, particularly in Germany and the UK. However, other Ford facilities are also expected to see job reductions.
The layoffs come as Ford continues its quest to shift its production strategy towards larger vehicles and EVs and its commitment to electrification. But the move is already triggering European unions to threaten to step in.
Ford of Europe, the American automaker's subsidiary, develops and manufactures vehicles for markets overseas. With over fifty years of operations, Ford's Cologne, Germany HQ oversees ten manufacturing facilities across seven European countries, including a new solar power plant at its Spain location.
Last summer, Ford laid off 8,000 US employees, mostly those assembling gas vehicles, as the company shifted its focus towards EVs. The latest job cuts in Europe suggest that Ford is undergoing a similar restructuring process in a market that looks to ban all combustion sales by 2035 completely.
According to local press reports in Europe, 2,500 to 4,000 product development jobs of the 6,250 currently employed by Ford could get fired. German union IG Metall stated that most of the layoffs would hit Germany and include a reduction of administrative roles at HQ, including up to 1,900 layoffs in Cologne alone. That said, other Ford facilities in Europe will reportedly also see major job reductions.
Ford's Merkenich facility, where it currently develops compact sedans, may see as many as 3,800 jobs go as those ICE models are phased out. Reports suggest that Ford's research center in Aachen, Germany, and technical center in the UK will also face some job cuts.
Unions in Europe are already stepping in to support those employees who face the axe. Suppose negotiations between the works council and management in the coming weeks do not ensure the future of workers. In that case, unions may take measures that could seriously impact the company in Germany and Europe-wide.
Having unions in Europe involved could certainly affect Ford's production output overseas, should the employees band together and potentially strike in support of their fired colleagues. This will be an ongoing saga to watch as Ford finalizes its layoffs and shifts its development toward an all-electric future.